This paper discusses some issues raised by Lavan et al. (2007) in relation to the study of everyday life: that is, do we need a distinctive set of fieldwork practices to investigate late antique sites? I will argue here that such an objective is both unnecessary and unhelpful. Instead, we should invest in reconnaissance and evaluation by using non-invasive techniques in advance of destructive excavation, then develop a more focused strategy by enhanced deposit modelling, involving a consideration of preservation levels, degrees of disturbance and deposit status. This has already been done successfully on several late antique sites, which I consider here. The above argument has important implications for the role of ‘interpretation at the point of the trowel’ in fieldwork practice. Counter to most recent commentators, I contend that, if we are to fully understand complex late antique archaeology, it is essential to retain a distinction between data gathered during excavation and interpretations reached as a result of their subsequent analysis.
Terra sigillata production in Gaul provides us with an excellent opportunity to examine the evolution of one particular form of inland production and trade from the 1st to the 3rd c. A.D. A number of notable centres of production were located in inland, rather than coastal, locations. Firstly, this suggests that fineware production and trade were sufficiently profitable to counterbalance the relatively high costs of inland transport systems, including both land and riverine transport. Secondly, fine pottery has been assumed to be proxy evidence for the transport of other, bulkier and higher value, goods. The production and distribution patterns of fine pottery in inland regions suggest that trade routes were more complex than a transfer of products from a single origin to their destination across the sea. Thirdly, the evolution from a wide-ranging, multi-directional distribution of 1st c. A.D. terra sigillata to a more restricted distribution of later Gaulish finewares may cast light on broader economic changes from the 3rd c. A.D., particularly in comparison with other regions of the empire.
In light of its environmental diversity, and specialisation in grain, and to a lesser extent wine production, a thorough understanding of late antique Sicily’s local economies, and their connections with the broader Mediterranean exchange system, is a major desideratum in the current debate on the ‘long’ Late Antiquity. This paper draws upon the archaeological evidence available for the Sicilian interior and the fresh datasets produced by the Philosophiana Project in the hinterland of Piazza Armerina, particularly for the period A.D. 300–700 (with some reference to the 8th and 9th c.). It aims to analyse the reasons for Sicily’s marked late antique economic growth and settlement expansion. This article also tries to situate the economy of inland Sicily in the much debated context of central Mediterranean state-sponsored trade and free markets. This is so we can investigate how the close connections between the grain heartland of Sicily and Rome impacted on the complexity of local economies. Ceramic production and distribution are widely used to reconstruct the sophisticated system of exchange engaged by the island in the long term.
This paper outlines the potential in the study of ceramic building material (CBM) recovered from archaeological contexts, and how it can shed light on archaeological questions. It can contribute to the dating of archaeological deposits and sites. As a large artefact, which can be subsequently reused in Antiquity, it can provide important information about site formation processes. The knowledge that large quantities of this material are not locally made, and are in fact part of wider regional distribution networks, makes CBM an extremely useful means of tracing ancient trading patterns. The proportions of different CBM forms in an assemblage can help inform us about the nature of a deposit, as can traces of sooting and mortar on recovered CBM. This material also provides important evidence for reconstructing the appearance of a building or neighbourhood and its change over time. A methodology and sampling strategy, which has been developed to elucidate this information in an efficient manner, is also presented.
This article argues that the proper study of Roman architecture is hampered by poor plans and the poor literacy of scholars in using plans. The problem is especially acute for the late antique period. In order to illustrate this, a case study of the Column of Constantine is considered, within the uncertain topographical context of Constantinople. There then follows an exposition of experimental work using laser scanning, which seeks to establish a number of simple methods by which new, more accurate plans can be rapidly produced. These new records can also provide important new information pertinent to the structural and decorative histories of Roman buildings, and the street systems in which they are set. Republican, early imperial and late antique structures from Pompeii and Ostia are examined.
This paper will examine regional and extra-regional trade through the study of the distribution of some categories of ceramics in Syria. It will present a review based on a selection of local and imported wares, from publications, as well as personal observations, including fabric analyses. From the 4th c. A.D. onwards all fine wares were imported. Two major Syrian classes were produced: ‘Brittle Ware’ (Syrian cooking ware) and ‘North Syrian Amphorae’. The distribution of the different vessel categories illustrates a clear distinction between the coast and the hinterland. It also reveals active regional trade, using both fluvial and terrestrial means of transport.